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Everton vs Burnley - Can Carlo Ancelotti begin a new era with a win?

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The Italian takes charge of the team for the first time at Goodison Park

Everton FC v Burnley FC - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

The Carlo Ancelotti-era at Everton is underway, with the Italian’s first game in charge a Boxing Day clash with Burnley at Goodison Park.

It has certainly been a whirlwind few days for the Blues, with Ancelotti’s appointment swiftly followed up by planning permission for their proposed new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock being submitted. Is a bright future finally on the horizon?

Ancelotti spoke articulately and passionately during his introductory press conference, despite some rather disparaging and even patronising questions from the media.

Everton Unveil New Manager Carlo Ancelotti Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

There still seems to be some disbelief in some parts that Everton have managed to attract a manager of Ancelotti’s pedigree, with the assumption being he is only here for the money and/or is past his best.

That may well be the case, but his early comments as Everton boss suggest otherwise. It seems the 60-year-old is as hungry as ever to build something at the club and lead them into the new stadium in three-and-a-half years time.

His arrival has certainly stirred up excitement amongst the fanbase, who have grown weary with disappointment over recent seasons. Duncan Ferguson seemed to reawaken the supporters’ passion, and the near-universal approval of Ancelotti’s arrival means the club, fans, players and management are as united as they have been for a long time.

Now comes the tricky bit - getting results on the pitch.

After tumbling into the relegation zone following that defeat at Liverpool, we all feared the worst going into games against Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal. But the Big Dunc-inspired revival has garnered five very valuable points and eased some of the pressure.

They are far from out of the woods, but the congested table means they are not too far away from the top ten either.

A festive three points against the Clarets would maintain that upward trend and ensure the club look forward to 2020 with optimism.

The opposition

AFC Bournemouth v Burnley FC - Premier League Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Burnley are quickly becoming the template for sides who want to establish themselves in the Premier League without having a huge budget (see Charlton in the late 90s/early 00s).

This is their fourth successive Premier League season, their best run in the top flight since 24 years in the old First Division was brought to an end in 1971.

Sean Dyche has been afforded time and patience (particularly following their relegation after just one season back in the top flight in 2015) to build a well-drilled side greater than the sum of their parts.

The 48-year-old knows his players are not technical enough to stroke the ball around like Pep’s City, so he plays to their strengths, namely defensive solidity and efficiency at set pieces.

That is exactly how they beat Everton in October, courtesy of Jeff Hendrick’s strike from a corner. That was one of seven clean sheets kept by the Clarets so far this campaign, no other side has kept more.

Chris Wood, their top scorer this season with seven goals, is an obvious threat and forms an effective partnership with Ashley Barnes, who has six goals to his credit this term.

Home form has been the bedrock of their success in recent years and the same applies this time around, with 15 of their 24 points won at Turf Moor.

However, they do head to Goodison having won two of their last three away matches, as many as they had won in their previous 14.

Previous meeting

Burnley FC v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Burnley 1-0 Everton 5th October, 2019 (match report)

A (nother) miserable afternoon for Everton as Jeff Hendrick’s 72nd minute strikes condemned the Toffees to a fourth successive defeat that left Marco Silva on the brink.

Recent form

Everton

Arsenal (H) Drew 0-0

Leicester City (H - Carabao Cup) Drew 2-2 (lost 4-2 on penalties)

Manchester United (A) Drew 1-1

Chelsea (H) Won 3-1

Liverpool (A) Lost 5-2

Burnley

Bournemouth (A) Won 1-0

Newcastle (H) Won 1-0

Tottenham (A) Lost 5-0

Man City (H) Lost 4-1

Crystal Palace (H) Lost 2-0

Team news

Alex Iwobi is set to be out for several weeks with a hamstring injury suffered in the opening stages of Saturday’s draw against Arsenal.

Morgan Schneiderlin is still out with a calf injury and Theo Walcott is also unlikely to return despite resuming training with a calf problem of his own.

Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina and Fabian Delph came through the Arsenal game unscathed on their return from injury and are fit to face the Clarets.

What they said

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti: “It is really exciting, like the first day of school. It is a new experience for me.

“I have received a lot of support in these past days from the Club, from the supporters I met at the hotel and in the city.

“The atmosphere is good and positive and I hope we are going to play a great game.

“We are trying to play the best football possible… with a lot of intensity, to be aggressive and try to win the ball early.

“This is the style of football we want to play. We will try to do this in the game against Burnley.”

Burnley FC v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Burnley striker Chris Wood: “It’s certainly going to be a different atmosphere. I imagine there will be quite a buzz with their fans waiting to see what the new manager brings and I’m sure the players will want to show what they can do, so it’s going to be an experience we have to deal with.

“But we’ve done it before when new managers come in, so we know what do to.

“Ultimately, we’ll focus on ourselves and do what we can as business and go from there.

“We want to go down there and hopefully get at least a point out of it. We are not heading there with anything else in our minds.”

Final word

The presence of Ancelotti and a festive full house should ensure for a rousing atmosphere at Goodison. He has only had two training sessions with the players so the priority is maintaining the momentum generated by Ferguson’s caretaker tenure rather passing on too many of his ideas. A win would be the perfect way to start the new era. Though this is Everton, so I won’t be surprised if they slip to a disappointing defeat either.

Merry Christmas!